Showing posts from June, 2020

Beethoven and Franck/Faure CD reviews

NORMAN STINMCHOMBE REVIEWS A COMPLETE SET OF BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES AND PIANO QUINTETS BY FRANCK AND FAURE BEETHOVEN NINE SYMPHONIES: Malmö Symphony Orchestra / Trevino (Ondine 5 SACDs ODE 1348-5Q) ★★★ Robert Trevino cites his Beethoven influences as Daniel Barenboim and David Zinman while favouring a mid-way position. Trevino studied under Zinman, and his fellow American's influence is obvious in the slimmed-down sonorities, near-the-metronome tempi and clipped phrasing. This approach works best in the first two Haydn-influenced symphonies which are full of zip, sparkle and all the vivacity one could want. After that, despite an impressive Eroica funeral march, doubts set in. There's little unsettling or mysterious about the fourth's crepuscular adagio opening, nor does the ensuing allegro blaze into life. I don't hear Barenboim's old-school grandeur, and Beethoven's deistic mysticism, in the Pastoral finale and while the ninth's finale, with excellen

Beethoven and Sawyers CD reviews

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE ENJOYS RARE BEETHOVEN AND A NEW PHILIP SAWYERS RELEASE BEETHOVEN: Barnatan / ASMF / Gilbert (Pentatone 2CDs PTC 5186824) ★★★★ A crucial factor in assessing the second volume of Inon Barnatan's survey of Beethoven's piano concertos will be the listener's attitude to op.61a, Beethoven's transcription of his Violin Concerto. I've never been convinced by it, only finding interest in the witty cadenza for piano and timpani, subsequently adopted by violinists for the original. Like it or not, the Israeli-American soloist, with the alert and skilful support of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields under Alan Gilbert, makes the strongest possible case for it. Elsewhere there's lots to enjoy: a sparkling second concerto, with Barnatan revelling in its genial high-jinks and a majestic and imposing Emperor concerto, without pomposity. Also a wonderfully uplifting Choral Fantasy – a dry run for the Ninth Symphony's finale – where Barnatan so

Shostakovich and Mayflower reviews

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS 20TH-CENTURY SHOSTAKOVICH AND 17TH-CENTURY PILGRIM FATHERS' MUSIC SHOSTAKOVICH: Ibramigova / State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia / Jurowski (Hyperion CDA68313) ★★★★★ Shostakovich's first violin concerto was premiered in 1955 by David Oistrakh who prepared a performing edition which differs from Shostakovich's autograph manuscript. Originally the bridge from   Passacaglia   to finale was to be played solo but Oistrakh asked for a respite and Shostakovich re-scored it for orchestra. Alina Ibragimova plays the original version here which allows, says the booklet notes, to hear "the concerto as originally conceived". Not quite. Ibragimova and conductor Vladimir Jurowski ignore Shostakovich's faster original metronome markings, which Frank Peter Zimmermann and Alan Gilbert observed in their 2016 recording. Zimmerman's timings for the   Nocturne   and   Passacaglia   are 9.07 and 11.05 – Ibragimova